Digital Graphic Recording

If you’d like to know more about graphic recording on paper instead, please see here.

Graphic recording; graphic harvesting; visual thinking; sketchnoting – it’s a practice with lots of different names, used interchangeably, but they all follow the same principle. The graphic recorder works at conferences and events to gather key learnings, and create engaging visuals that spark joy and conversation.

What does a digital graphic harvester do?


The graphic harvester is hired to bring their unique skill set to an event – it could be a large corporate conference or an intimate community workshop. They set up in an area of the venue where they can hear the speaker(s) and see any on-screen presentation, but not distract from them. This is often at the back of the room. If the event is online, they simply log in as an attendee to listen to and observe the various speakers. 

While the event is underway, the graphic recorder takes notes, picks out key points from the talks and draws a visualisation or multiple visualisations of the day’s proceedings digitally. To do this they generally use either an iPad or a desktop set-up with a digital drawing tablet. Unlike traditional paper graphic harvesters where they have a physical display that the attendees in the room can see, this visualisation is completely digital.

The finished image can be shared online by the events team after the event, and be an exciting part of your post-event social media campaign. For online conferences they can provide a vibrant visual backdrop to finish off the day, with the artist sharing their screen and the final image as the event comes to a close. 

The impact of your event can be extended as the image gets shared with attendees, your in-house teams and even utilised in post-event summaries and reports.

It’s a creative and dynamic way of keeping the day’s learnings fresh in the memory of those who attended as well as piquing the interest of any stakeholders who weren’t able to make it, this time. 

Two colourful examples of graphic recording by illustrator Ruth Graham - one for a Leader and National Rural Network conference and one for an SPHE Network conference.

*This page is about live event work. Do you have a recording of a previous online breakout session or workshop that you’d like to utilise in some way? Listening to past event recordings and capturing content from them is also a service that I offer. It’s a great way to get the most out of an event that had some powerful takeaways that you are keen to share out to a wider network; or to find and tease out the golden threads within a session for you so that you can show your stakeholders what it was all about. Feel free to get in touch if this is something you’d like to discuss, or read more here.*



Do I need a graphic harvester at my event?

It depends on what you want to get out of the day. The goals of graphic recording digitally are to:


1. Document the journey 

The day’s learnings and key points from speakers are visually mapped, with the series of images produced standing as both an event reminder and as proof of the event’s outcomes. 


2. Engage attendees

The imagination of delegates is captured as they see the ideas of the day brought to life online. Attendees often take share content to their own social channels. These images are not just for show – they engage visual learners and are a catalyst for meaningful conversations. 


3. Create an event with impact

Attendees leave with key takeaways that will stick with them long after the buzz from the day is over.

Choosing a Graphic Recorder:

Most professional graphic recorders will be experienced and highly credible; so I think the most useful thing to do once you’ve ascertained that is to take a look at examples of their work to see if they would be a good fit for what you’re looking for.

Here’s a few things to look for:

  • The quality of the content that has been captured is vital – Is the information useful? Is it clear?
  • Graphic recorders are keen listeners and visual thinkers but they’re also artists; And just like you may have a preference for a particular art style, you may have a particular style of graphic recording that you prefer. Does their art style appeal to you? With digital graphic recording there can be a huge variety in the style – some may offer both a loose drawing style (similar to a paper harvest) and a more polished graphic option depending on your requirements.
  • Some graphic recorders like myself who work digitally also offer graphic recording on paper. Some offer optional add-ons to their service like digital illustrations, animated GIFs etc. If pre and post-event work is something you’d like to incorporate that may also be something to consider.
  • Some may be able to offer you a larger team for bigger events. For example, when covering conferences with lots of parallel sessions or events that require a more intense level of output I work with a team of journalists and recorders who can capture and create alongside me.  

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